Alive 'n Kickin'

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1968)

- Pepe Cardona (RIP 2020) -- lead vocals

- Robb Lapp (RIP 2020) -- drums, percussion

- Jeff Miller -- keyboards
- David Shearer -- guitar
- Sandy Todler -- lead vocals 
- Thomas "Woody" Wilson -- bass, backing vocals


  line up 2 (1968-70)

NEW - Vito Albano -- drums, percussion (replaced Rob Lapp)
- Pepe Cardona (RIP 2020) -- lead vocals
NEW - John Parisio -- lead guitar (replaced David Shearer)
NEW - Bruce Sudano -- keyboards, backing vocals (replaced 

  Jeff Miller)
- Sandy Todler -- lead vocals 
- Thomas  "Woody" Wilson -- bass, backing vocals


  line up 3 (1970-71)

- Pepe Cardona (RIP 2020) -- lead vocals
- John Parisio -- lead guitar

NEW - Ronnie Pell -- drums, percussion (replaced Vita Albano)
- Bruce Sudano -- keyboards, backing vocals
- Sandy Todler -- lead vocals 
- Thomas  "Woody" Wilson -- bass, backing vocals


  line up 4 (1976)

NEW - Vito Albano -- drums, percussion

- Pepe Cardona (RIP 2020) -- lead vocals

- Richie Incorvaia (RIP) -- bass (replaced 
NEW - Ronnie Pell -- drums, percussion (replaced Vita Albano)

NEW - David Shearer -- rhythm guitar
- Thomas  "Woody" Wilson -- lead guitar, backing vocals





- Brooklyn Dreams (Bruce Sudano)

- Joe Bruce and 2nd Avenue (Bruce Sudano)

- Bruce Sudano (solo efforts)    



Genre: pop 

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Alive 'n Kickin'

Company: Roulette

Catalog: SR 42052

Year: 1969

Country/State: USA

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: cut out niche, still in shrink wrap

Available: 2

Catalog ID: 5450

Price: $30.00

Cost: $1.00


Led by singer Pepe Cardona, Alive 'n Kickin' was a New York City based sextet showcasing the talents of drummer Vito Albano, vocalist Sandy Todler, guitarist John Parisio, keyboardist Bruce Sudano and bassist Thomas Wilson.  Formed in 1968 while the members were still in their teens, the group started their careers playing the city's club circuit.


Alive 'n Kicikin's big break came in 1969 when Tommy James and the Shondells caught the group performing at a small Brooklyn Club.  Impressed by the band James offered them an opportunity to record a tune he'd written, but been unable to record himself due to a severe case of stage fright.  Ironically, before Alive 'n Kickin' could record 'Crystal Blue Persuasion' James withdrew the offer so that James and the Shondells could release it themselves.  Redeeming himself, James offered the band a replacement track entitled 'Tighter and Tighter'.

Feeling that the song was overly commercial, the band was initially reluctant to record the track.  They ultimately relented recording the song as their debut for Roulette Records.  Released as a single 'Tighter and Tighter' b/w 'Sunday Morning' (Roulette catalog number R-7078), the song eventually went top-10. 


As was standard marketing, Roulette rushed the band into the studio to record a supporting album.  Produced by James and Bob King, "Alive 'n Kickin'" proved a minor surprise. Anyone hearing 'Tighter and Tighter' (let along looking at the fun-in-the-sun album cover), would have justifiably concluded these guys were little more than a faceless top-40 pop band.  Wrong conclusion.  Powered by Todler's tough voice (her bluesy delivery occasionally baring a resemblance to Janis Joplin (check out her performances on 'Just Let It Come' or 'Kentucky Fire'), the set of largely original material rocked with a quite a bit of energy.  While it may not have made for the year's most original set, songs such as 'Junction Creek' and 'Mississippi Mud' saw the group displaying a penchant for above average blues-rock with some interesting time changes thrown in for good measure.  That wasn't meant to imply these guys were going to knock Deep Purple off the hard rock throne. With Sudano and Wilson penning most of the tunes, about half of the track listing retained a distinctive commercial sheen.  The set was far from perfect.  Nothing came close to 'Tighter, Tighter' and when the band went off the rails, the results were pretty bad - check out the county-tinged closer 'Mother Carey's Chicken' or 'Hitter Man'. Still, the fact they were allowed to record so many original tracks spoke highly of Roulette's faith in the band.  

"Alive 'n Kickin'" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Tighter, Tighter   (Tommy James - Bob King) - 2:43  rating: ***** stars

If I was going to compile a list of songs that bled that '70s pop vibe, 'Tighter, Tighter' would easily make the list.  It's also a sterling example of what a great songwriter James was.  This is just a pure piece of ear candy - virtually impossible to shake once you've heard it.
2.) Junction Creek   (Bruce Sudano - Thomas Wilson - Pepe Cardona - Sandy Todler) - 4:00 
rating: **** stars

The lyrics were forgettable, but powered by Cardona and Todler's rugged voices, 'Junction Creek' exhibited some interesting time changes and was surprisingly tight and funky.  
3.) Jordan   (Bruce Sudano - Thomas Wilson) - 3:29   
rating: **** stars

Opening up with some nice John Parisio lead guitar, 'Jordan' again showcased Cardona and Todler on lead vocals, 'Jordan' added a Gospel-flavor to the mix.  Parisio returned mid-song with an even nicer solo.  Very nice.
4.) Kentucky Fire   (Bruce Sudano - Thomas Wilson) - 5:10  
rating: **** stars

Opening with a killer guitar riff, 'Kentucky Fire' underscored these guys were more than a pop-40 band.  With Todler breaking out her Joplin edge, for some reason this one's always reminded me of a New York City version of The Shocking Blue.
5.) Sunday Morning   (Bruce Sudano - Thomas Wilson) - 0:30  
rating: *** stars

Clocking in at under a moment, 'Sunday Morning' was more of a song fragment than anything.  With an Up-with-People religious vibe, it was bright and tuneful, just not long enough to make much of an impact.

(side 1)

1.) Just Let It Come   (A. Martin) - 3:09   rating: **** stars

Opening up with some nice Parisio fuzz guitar, the rocker 'Just Let It Come' was a nice example of how good Cardona and Todler sounded together.  Good choice for the album's follow-up single.

- 1970 'Just Let It Come' b/w 'Mother Carey's Chicken' (Roulette catalog number R-7087)

2.) Mississippi Mud   (Bruce Sudano - Thomas Wilson) - 5:42   rating: *** stars

The ship horn opening always makes me smile, as did Parisio little guitar riff and the segment where they spelled out Mississippi.  Let me warn you that Todler sounded a little ragged on this one.  A very different sound for the band, again reminded me of one of Dutch pop bands that was very popular at the start of the '70s.  
3.) Hitter Man   (Bruce Sudano - Thomas Wilson - Pepe Cardona - Sandy Todler) - 4:34
   rating: ** stars

The second group composition, 'Hitter Man' was another stab at mixing harder rock and commercial moves.  Complete with some weird time changes, curiously, this time around the sound came off as stiff; reminding me of something that might have been written for a Broadway play.
4.) Mother Carey's Chicken  (Bruce Sudano - Thomas Wilson - Pepe Cardona) - 4:28
  rating: *** stars

I'm guess 'Mother Carey's Chicken' was how a bunch of young New York City folks thought a funny country song should sound.  All I can say is the results were neither funny, nor enjoyable.  Sad way to end the album. 

Two instantly forgotten follow-on non-LP singles followed  (the second credited to "Alive 'n Kickin' featuring Sandy" and by the end of the year ongoing issues with Morris Levy and Roulette management saw the group call it quits.


- 1971's 'London Bridge' b/w 'You Gave Me Something' (Roulette catalog number R-7094) 

- 1971's 'Good Ole Lovin' Back Home' b/w 'Jordan' (Roulette catalog number R-7113) 




In 1976 Cardona, Albano and Wilson reformed the band along with original guitarist David Shearer and new bass player Richie Incorvaia and began playing New York clubs doing top 40 covers.  Sudano reappeared as a member of Brooklyn Dreams and achieved a little bit of media attention when he married Donna Summer.



n 1980 they released a private label sophomore album that I've never seen or heard.  "Going Strong" was issued on the Skyline label (catalog number SK 1000)


With singer Pepe Cardona and guitarist John Parisio as the lone original members the band was still active playing weddings, graduations, and parties in the New York area through mid-2020.


In July 2020 the 72 year old Cardona died of pancreatic cancer.



Todler has a small FaceBook presence at: (20+) Sandy Toder | Facebook


There is also an Alive 'n Kickin' Facebook site, though it doesn't seem to have been updated in the wake of Cardona's death: (20+) Alive N Kickin | Facebook